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Campbell Apt.: Should I be Angry?


(If this is under the wrong Chow Board I apologize.)

Hello fellow posters.

I am trying to decide if I am being foolish, or if I should be as cheesed off as I am about the following event at the Campbell Apartment (henceforth C.A.). I will try to be brief (but will surely fail). (N.B. two of my friends who have been to C.A. think I should be cheesed off.)

Meeting scheduled at the C.A. regarding a fundraising event due to convenient location for all and quiet tone due to meeting being at 4 p.m. Four people, me from one place, three others coming from their location. I arrive early at the C.A., to get table.

I am wearing nice clothes. I am also using a cane due to spine issues causing horrid pain in left leg/foot (test coming up on the 23rd to determine if surgery needed, or if something nasty weird is going on. But I digress). Left foot cannot wear heels or stiff shoes. I am wearing a pair of Geox shoes, not flashy ones in the least, clean.

Hostess approaches. Informs me I cannot enter due to shoes. I am so astounded that my brain boggles and I blurt "I'm using a cane!" She clearly is not overwhelmingly happy to be telling me this. But she says the owners have a "Strict" dress code. I have been to C.A. before and seen some extremely NON-strict dress, but again I digress. I goggle at her and again say, "But I'm using a cane!!!"

Hostess says but people could see me in my horrid horrid shoes and think they could come and do the same. I hold up the cane and say "So show them the cane!"

Need I say that pain 24/7 can sometimes make you less than fabulously snappy and coherent.

Hostess then asks if I have shoes I can change into (er, no, sorry those HURT). I say that I have socks on. She looks unhappy -- I can tell that she feels bad, and she then looks over to the bartender, who clearly gets to call the shots.

He does not even look at me, He raises his chin and gives the smallest shake of his head. I felt like the poor girl in highschool getting Mean Girled to the extreme. Hostess goes I'm sorry, looking (I think to her credit) rather miserable.

He didn't even have the BALLS to LOOK at me! It was like an exaggerated snobby moment that is supposed to be parody in movies .

Hostess tells me I can of course sit at the lovely noisy spot outside. There my shoes will not offend.

So, I have to sit down at the bottom of their stairs on the marble banister holder waiting for my colleagues. While I am waiting people pass by and give me funny looks. But I have to meet my folks -- where else can I? If they come up in the elevator they will not find me in the lovely noisy boite outside.

The capper was as I waited looking like a fool, a couple emerge down the C.A. stairs. The man is not wearing "sneakers" but is wearing crappy jeans. God knows, perhaps they cost $500 to look that lousy, but THIS is a "strict dress code???"

My associates arrived -- one of whom I had never met before -- and were a trifle confused as to why I was a waif with my cane at the bottom of the stairs. As I got up and explained, we hit the stairs to go outside and as I make my way downstairs I blurted "For God's sake, I'm not carrying this thing because I want to be all Andre 3000! I need it!"

And I ended up getting many props for loving Outkast! It set the tone for what ended up being a VERY successful meeting.

At CIPRIANI in Grand Central, thank you very much.

So, one of the things that bothers me most about all this, is because my mum just got a new knee. I love her very much, she is a wonderful woman, and I cannot imagine her being subjected to this crap. Before she had a new knee, she was getting stress fractures in her foot due to the messed up way of walking caused by the bad knee. She HAD to wear things like (OH NO) Granny Sandals. Or tasteful sneaker things. If she found something that didn't hurt badly my goodness it was a blessing and practically a miracle. She needs her cane too. So I guess the halt and the lame are denied entry to the C.A.?

Please do not flame me if you think I am wrong to be angry and think this was not well handled. Feel free to disagree, but please no flaming -- I think this Board is better than that.

  1. Neither the bartender nor the hostess matter in this situation. They are pawns following the rules set by the owner. You need to write a letter to the owner and make him aware of the situation.

    1. Their "strict dress code" is obnoxious and stupid. The problem is that the hostess was probably instructed to allow no exceptions whatsoever.

      If it makes you feel any better, they do it to everyone. I wouldn't dwell on it if I were you. You still had a successful night, and you didn't have to go into a place where you might have felt self conscious anyway. If you found the staff condescending, just imagine what the clientele is like.

      1. I think it is outrageous,discriminatory and although I try to look at it "from the other point of view," I do not believe there is a defensible other point of view in this case. I don't know what Campbell Apartment is..perhaps the "spot of the moment." Let us hope its moment is very short.

        1. I think you were very poorly treated.

          I also disagree with the 'strict dress code' mentioned by egit (but agree with the rest of the post). They do not have a dress code other than the fact that they STATE they have a dress code which allows selective enforcement. Hence, the crappy jean guy being allowed and you being kicked to the side.

          Although, I suspect that if you would have spoken to the bartender (forced the issue by approaching him) and stated that you had a disability that prevented you from wearing other shoes, you might have shamed him into allowing you in...Many people go completely deer in headlights when that word comes up.

          I, personally, would have been livid and must commend you on your mature and professional response. I'm not sure if I could have restrained myself from confronting the bartender. Alas, I fear I'm becoming self-righteous in my middle-age.

          1. Oh my word, you acted so much nicer than I would have. I put have put the cane up the side of their heads. I am so sorry you were treated that way.

            I do not use a cane, but can't wear heels because of a bad back and other issues. No one has ever told me I could not come in because of my "ole lady" shoes. I am not sure what agency handles discrimination against handicapped, but you should find out and report the C.A.

            I would even call my local news agencies and report it. No way is that legal.

            1. I think you're right to be cheesed off. It's more than the resto just being rude, it sounds like a violation of your civil rights under the ADA and the NY Human Rights law. The resto is a public accomodation and required to make reasonable modifications to their policies, practices and procedures in order to make their goods and services available to persons with disabilities, unless doing so would fundamentally alter the nature of the goods/services. Restos being concerned that other diners might see your medically necessary shoes and think that they can wear similar, is not, imo, sufficient to obsolve the resto of their duty to make reasonable modifications.

              At minimum, I'd call the resto and speak with the manager about it. It's likely that the bartender and hostess have not been properly trained, and the management would probably be glad to get that info before they continue pulling similar "bozo no-nos". I would also file a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights, but then, I have zero tolerance for this sort of thing.

              2 Replies
              1. re: akq

                I too think you were poorly treated and would have gone right to the bartender and mentioned the situation, I think he would have ended up feeling like a tool which is the way he was behaving. I hope you are feeling better soon and thank you for the new phrase, "cheesed off" think it will be my new favorite.

                1. re: akq

                  I agree with AKQ, you very well might have grounds for a lawsuit, or at least enough grounds to make the establishment quake in their boots a little about their treatment of you. Make em sweat! File a complaint with the appropriate agencies, have them investigated.

                2. I have to say, I am FRIGHTENED that someone is going to say "well if they have a dress code and you were not dressed accordingly, then you should have gone somewhere else."

                  I hope they have enough sense to think before they type, but I actually stop by the C.A. about once a month and I'm thinking that is going to cease and desist.

                  1. Amazing! Yes, contact the owner but as someone who is also 'disabled' and recently had total hip replacement surgery I'm wondering if there aren't bigger questions to ask (not confrontationally, but rationally) - does the owner or management train the staff to be anything other than snobs? Would you have been totally barred had you been in a wheelchair? HMMMM?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: OCEllen

                      A wheelchair doesn't really have anything to do with one's attire, so it's kind of apple/oranges.

                    2. Yes, you have every right to be cheesed off with the situation - you were discriminated against, plain and simple. Not only was the staff's behavior offensive, rude, and insulting, it was also illegal.

                      Under Title III of the ADA, restaurants must "...comply with basic nondiscrimination requirements that prohibit exclusion, segregation, and unequal treatment" ( http://www.ada.gov/cguide.htm - second paragraph under Title III). You were excluded and received unequal treatment, based on a disability.

                      I don't know what kind of path you want to pursue (if any) - but I would encourage you to contact the owner(s) and management of the C.A. via mail, sending copies to the Federal Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division (address in the link above), as well as to your state Civil Rights agencies - you might also want to send copies to the media and so forth, depending on how much of a stink you want to raise.

                      As someone who has spent time in wheelchairs, on crutches, in walking braces, and who often walks with a cane (and chooses not to wear "dress" shoes because of how they aggravate a neurological issue), I would ask you to consider raising a hubbub about the treatment you experienced - if it's happened to you, it's likely happened to others - and if you don't speak-up, well, who will?

                      Good luck and please let us know what you choose (if anything) to do. (And good luck with the leg issue, of course!)

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: ElsieDee

                        I am seconding Elsie Dee's suggestions here. As I read your post, I was shouting 'ADA!!!' in my head. I continued to do so as I scanned down the posts until akq and Elsie Dee's, both of which pointed out that this is not a matter of dress codes but of discrimination. I also wish you well with the leg.

                        1. re: Lizard

                          Agree with all the above. I've been to CA several times, and enjoy it, BUT, I must say that the first time I ever went there, which was during holiday season, I was kind of put off by what I perceived as the hostess looking at people's feet rather than their eyes when she greeted them...apparently you could wear shabby jeans, garish holiday sweaters, and light up reindeer ears, but NO SNEAKERS. I always thought that was a rather bizarre "dress code". In the OP's case, however, I agree that reasonable accommodation could certainly have been made. Common sense ain't that common.

                        2. Oh dear... I think maybe some people have misinterpreted my disintrest in the OP's complaint. It's not that I think they didn't treat you badly. They have treated others I know rather poorly as well. I've only been there a handful of times, and apparently only during the week when I've been dressed in work attire. So this has never happened to me there.

                          If I appear disinterested, it's only because there are plenty of other places very nearby who will treat you better. In this kind of situation I would simply say "fine, you don't get my money, then." There are other places in NYC where I, or friends of mine, have been turned away because of some ridiculous enforcement of a dress code. I just shrug and say "whatever."

                          I understand that, in the OP's case, she wasn't able to wear dressy shoes, and yes, in that situation I would have wanted them to make an exception due to medical/orthopedic issues. I just don't think Campbell Apartment is worth the effort to cause a big fight about. It's an overpriced bar and somewhat of a tourist/commuter trap. Sure, it's a really interesting room but that's all it has going for it. It's most definitely not the "in" spot of the moment. They're an equal-opportunity offender, in my mind.

                          1. It's pretty ironic that Campbell Apartment appears to be owned by a group named "Hospitality Holdings!"

                            I agree that you should pursue this issue. Pretty disgusting is my comment.


                            1. Greetings from the OP!

                              Many thanks to all of you for your support. I find that pain sometimes clouds my mind a little, and am glad to know I was not nuts! Well, o.k., I may be nuts, but not about this :-0

                              For the posters who were unsure about what Campbell Apartment is (restaurant/bar), that's because it got moved from the Manhattan food board -- the Chow Team must have moved it here (no problem! I just didn't know where to post.)

                              The suggestions regarding the ADA are very tempting, I must say. I think I may take the "middle road" and write the owners, with copies sent to those who would like to know. But I just can't get involved in a huge deal right now. Surgery may soon await etc.

                              Many of your own tales about the place made me giggle, especially the Holiday visit with reindeer ears but NOT SNEAKERS! Hee!

                              It makes me bummed because while it is not a super special place a la trendy, I just adore the room itself. That whole neo-medieval thing just makes me smile. Sigh.

                              Ooh, in my dreams I would gather 100 cane-carrying gimps like me to show up in clean gimp shoes at the very same time at the door, when the owners were in the place. Imagine the scene... Here Comes the GIMP SQUAD!!! With my mum in the lead!

                              Thanks again for your kind support, and I will keep you posted regarding my health.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: BratleFoodie

                                I'd contact the state antidiscriminationagency (don't know what it's called in NY). Your experience was ridiculous. Sometimes a single phone call from an official can bring a sudden change of attitude.

                              2. I have been turned away from the Campbell Apt's for having sneakers on..no big deal but for you to be turned away for having to wear one of those god awful looking shoes after surgery with a cane..wtf..do they think that you went to the shoe store and decided that looked good...I would of had that cane so far up..you know where..
                                ; )

                                1. "Poorly treated" my behind! "Contact the owner" too late (for them)! This goes way way beyond poor treatment.

                                  A clear violation of Federal and State laws. If you want many lawyers will want to represent you. "Dress code" does not override Federal law.

                                  1. Good job holding it together BF

                                    A letter to the owner is in order. If you get no satisfaction, I'd complain the the human rights department that deals with this kinda stuff.

                                    I'd also do a follow up to this post. If you get a good apology and are happy with the situation, let people know.
                                    If you're not happy with how this is handled, also let people know. If I lived in Ca. and had the opportunity to dine at C. A. I'd take a pass based on your story.


                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: Davwud

                                      Campbell's Apartment is Manhattan - just so you know - it's a bar in Grand Central Station.

                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                        Since it is in Grand Central Station, a copy of letters should be sent to the Station management as well. It reflects on the whole property if any of their tenants are behaving this way.

                                        1. re: KaimukiMan

                                          Excellent idea! I second cc'ing the station management.

                                          1. re: akq

                                            I'd also cc some food writers/bloggers from the NYT.

                                    2. I am so sorry you had to go through this. My significant other has a bad leg due to a step infection following surgery on his leg. Because of the damage caused by the strep and removal of damaged tissue in his leg and ankle, his foot is permanently affixed so that he walks on the outside. The inside of his foot hasn't touched the floor in years. He has no choice but to wear athletic shoes and for those only last a few weeks before wearing out. It gets pretty expensive trying to keep him in a decent pair of shoes. I can only imagine his distress if something like this happened to him.

                                      I do feel this was wrong. I agree that you should complain to the owner. This is discrimimatory and I'm sure could cause a big legal mess if it happened to someone who took it to the ACLU or a lawyer.

                                      1. Oh, I'm so sorry that you had to go through that. Being in a similar position, I can only imagine what I would have done if they did that to me -- and I don't think I probably would have been as diplomatic as you have. I have gone to a few places with dress codes, and nobody has said anything to me about my foot attire.

                                        It is so incredibly short-sighted of them to adhere to their stupid "rules." Any person with an ounce of common sense would realize that it's better to bend their obnoxious rule in this situation than risk future ill-will. I'm sure a lot of people will not be going there after reading a post like yours. Sometimes I think this world is lacking a lot of common sense.

                                        1. In a word, DISGUSTING.

                                          I think you should start a campaign. Enlist as many folks as you can to go into the restaurant dressed in what would likely be considered "acceptable attire". These folks should order a soda, glass of wine, appetizer etc. (nothing more than that so as not to commit to shelling out anything more than an inconsequential amount of money) and once they have been served remove themselves to the restroom to change into the most obnoxious outfits they can come up with (horrid shoes and all) and then return to the table and continue on.

                                          Can you imagine if a person or two a day did this for a few weeks. Better yet, how about a four top or party of eight on a busy night. The key to this is to start a movement, enlist the help of others so that it happens often and for a while. Give them a taste of their own medicine.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: luckygirl

                                            Sounds fun, but I'm not sure what this action would gain. I don't know that I have a problem with a place that has a dress code as much as (as I noted above) I have a problem with a place that enforces the dress code in ways that make it untenable for people with disabilities to be treated equally. That takes it beyond a war of taste and attitude into the realm of civil liberties and the ADA.

                                            This action will not teach the bar anything, nor will it do much more than inconvenience all staff-- and from the story, it doesn't seem that all staff were responsible. Simply an idiot manager and hostess who insisted upon unfairly and rigidly applying rules to inconvenience and exclude a legally protected person.

                                            Ideally, political theatre should make the viewers think about something. As I said, I'm not sure what this accomplishes. Perhaps you can help outline the gains in this action for me? Thanks!

                                          2. i was in a similar situation at CA. a group of us went after work one day for drinks at campbell apartment. we were all dressed in business attire. a colleague was getting over a broken foot so had on more of a casual shoe with his suit but not a sneaker, they were dark brown as well. a group of 10 was turned away.

                                            i'm sorry you had to go through such an experience. Too bad for CA. I know my office refuses to go back.

                                            1. Well, I'll tell you a story about when their moronic policy sort of got turned around on them. Way back when "Spin City" was still shooting in NYC, a couple of us and Heather Locklear attempted to go to the C.A. for a drink one evening. One of the group, If I remember correctly it was Heather, was wearing sneakers and we were refused admission. We went over to Michael Jordan's who gave us a prime table on the balcony. Meanwhile, the folks at the C.A. must have realized they turned away a celebrity. After we were seated at MJ's, the hostess from the C.A. actually had the nerve to come over to us and say "Miss Locklear your table is ready." Her reply was "Oh, we're fine where we are thank you." I've never went back to the C.A. since and always try to discourage others from doing so.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: adrman

                                                Heather Locklear? Imagine the bar tab C.A. missed out on! One MUST WRITE THE LETTER in a case like this. If you just tell people about it and grumble, it won't have the desired effect. You need to document the event, take the advice of cc-ing Grand Central, as they are, by definition, there to serve people in transit, for whom fashion considerations, especially in light of an injury, are not first priority. At very least, and I know this is not your aim, a manager or overseer should offer to comp you a meal, though I imagine that type of reparation probably won't be forthcoming from a place of this character.

                                              2. This is illegal. File a complaint with your local antidiscrimination commission and the EEOC. Especially since someone else has posted a similar experience.

                                                1. Since the original poster has received the information they were looking for -- about whether they were sorely mistreated or not -- and this thread is now venturing down the path of legal advice, we're going to close it. We hope she finds an appropriate resolution, but we don't think we're the right forum to address the intricacies of lawsuits and ADA complaints.